Soldiers return to Fort Benning from Iraq. - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Soldiers return to Fort Benning from Iraq

By Mackenzie Patterson - email

FORT BENNING, GA (WTVM) -  Some Fort Benning Soldiers are unpacking their gear, eating American food, and most importantly, spending time with their families.  The soldiers in the 926th Medical Detachment Unit made their return to Fort Benning after a year tour in Iraq. 

Rene Puente, a mother of one of the soldiers, said the arrival is thrilling and worth the wait.

"First thing I'm going to do is squeeze her cheeks.  It's a mom thing," said Puente.

Until today, it had been about a year since Puente last saw her daughter, First Lieutenant Amanda Gonzalez.  First Lt. Gonzalez has just finished her first deployment to Iraq.  Her mom said the family is proud and told News Leader Nine about her daughter's quick smile.

"World's worst could happen: gun fire, black hawks flying over, rapid fire, and she smiles," said Puente.

It was all cheers, hugs, and smiles when the Medical Detachment Unit walked into Freedom Hall at Fort Benning.  The soldiers spent their time in Iraq focusing on preventive medicine such as making sure the water and food was clean and leading Iraqi kids in boys and girls scouts.  First Lt. Gonzalez told News Leader Nine about her experience with the Iraqi children.

"Even though there's that language barrier, their faces light up just like American kids and they learn and pick on each other just like American kids," explained Gonzalez.

The Iraqi children's excitement was not very different from the children's anticipation today at Fort Benning.  Sydney McNabb is excited for her father to be home so they can bake cupcakes and do homework together.

"When I ever need help he always gets to help me," said Sydney McNabb.

Sydney's mother, Sandra, said the deployment is tough on their family.  However, her husband will have some time off in order to spend time with the family.

"Her friends daddies are always home.  So it makes it really hard on the kids not having her daddy home.  So for at least a month we're going to be normal," said Sandra McNabb.

Lt. Gonzalez said being normal is her goal too.

"Feel like a girl again.  Go to the spa and try to get some of this Iraqi dirt off from underneath my fingernails," said Gonzalez.

For more than one Army mom, wife, and daughter being normal simply means being with the ones they love.

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